by Mike Masnick

You Don't Have To Answer Your Mobile Phone

from the public-service-announcement dept

Just a quick public service announcement reminding people that (no, seriously) you don't have to answer your mobile phone every time it rings. The author notes that, among adults, growing up in an age where long distance communications (or even just any phone calls) were considered a big event, we have it hard wired into our brains that a phone needs to be answered when it rings -- even if it interrupts something much more important. However, the author notes (anecdotally), that the younger generation which has grown up with mobile phones doesn't seem as inclined to answer each and every call -- recognizing that it's not such a big event any more. Of course, a lot of this could be solved if there were good ways to build better presence information into a mobile phone, such that it would know when to shift calls directly to voicemail or when to alert you only to "important" calls.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    GIJoeBob, Aug 15th, 2005 @ 5:56am

    Don't answer that phone

    When telephones started appearing in US homes in earnest, it was considered pompous or vulgar to have the telephone displayed in your home and calls were ONLY answered when the person receiving the call felt it was appropriate.
    I wholeheartedly agree.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Miked918, Aug 15th, 2005 @ 6:04am

    Right on!

    It seems we -- the older ones of us -- are conditioned like Pavlov's dog to answer the ring. It's good to hear that teens and young adults may not be as conditioned as most of us are.

    The telephone -- landline, mobile, etc. -- is only a tool. Not a control.

    The post and story is definitey a good read.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Chris Heller, Aug 15th, 2005 @ 9:01am

    Automatic mobile phone answering

    I posted an idea on ShouldExist that would help with this. In addition to regular voicemail, allow someone to record a quick auto-answer message into their phone ("I'm in a meeting") to help discourage the need to answer every single call.

    That was 5 years ago though and I haven't seen any phones that do anything similar though :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    aries, Aug 15th, 2005 @ 9:02am


    Cell phones still don't work unless you're on a hill in my area.

    Home phone here always needs to be answered since it doubles as a business line.

    Personally, unless my line of work really calls for it, I doubt I'll ever have a cell phone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    PhotoDave, Aug 15th, 2005 @ 9:40am

    Re: Automatic mobile phone answering

    These features exists in almost every online call management software out there. I agree, it would be most handy to have similar options built into cell phones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Mike Brown, Aug 15th, 2005 @ 10:02am

    Re: Automatic mobile phone answering

    That feature is built into every cell phone - it's called the "on/off switch". In most systems, if the handset isn't on, the call is answered by a voice mail system.

    I never receive unwanted cell phone calls, as I don't switch the bloody thing on except when I really need it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    nostranonymous, Aug 15th, 2005 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Automatic mobile phone answering

    In addition to that point...

    If you keep your phone against your person directly (mostly men), PUT IT ON VIBRATE! Why does it need to ring? I understand you just spent 8 bucks on that shitty metallica ringtone and want to "show it off" but seriously, are you 12? NO ONE CARES what your ringtone is and since all cellphones have the option to notify you silently, why not use it???

    Moving forward with a little cell phone etiquette from a younger generation...

    98% of the time it ISN'T an emergency on the other end of the call. And if it is an emergency, 100% of the time they will leave a voicemail that you can silently listen to and immediately call back if needed.

    In general, just treat your phone as if it is a silent pager. It's simple. Do not answer unless you are ALONE and return calls only when you are in a private place. Nobody around you is involved in your conversation; why must they hear it -- or should I say, why must they hear HALF of it???

    But then again, I guess if you're the type of person that thinks the world revolves around you, then this may be a difficult concept to grasp.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2005 @ 2:26am

    Re: Automatic mobile phone answering

    So true about the on/off switch BUT this does have the disadvantage of not picking up any missed calls which is why "silent" mode was created! USE IT!! Nokia have started putting a "presence" mode in some of their phones now as well apparently but not all of them. From what i understand you can tell the phone you are in a meeting and it will send any calls to a recorded message telling the caller you are unavailable. You still receive a not on your phone telling you some one called and the caller knows that you will be unavailable for the next hour or so and to call back late. Sadly this option only works on some handsets but its unimportant really because EVERY phone has a silent option on it and its the same people who cant bring themselves to use this that will more then likely just ignore the "presence" option as well letting their phone ring freely in completely inappropriate places

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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